With summer fast approaching it can be tempting to wish away the time between now and your vacation or the start of the school holidays. When you work hard and have a busy life it’s natural to yearn for a chance to slow down and take a proper break. But it doesn’t have to be like that. You can take advantage of the warmer weather and longer days, building in moments of calm and restorative peace wherever you are. Here are 6 tips for a slow living summer that will ensure you are ready to catch any chance to switch off and unwind, even in the midst of the hurly burly of everyday life.
At work or play, these are 6 simple ways to boost your wellbeing and start enjoying the whole of the summer, instead of counting down the days until your vacation.
1.Be in Nature
Numerous studies have shown that being in Nature is good for our bodies, and our minds. The stress hormone cortisol is lowered when we spend time in woods, near rivers or in green spaces. No matter where you live or work, seek out a spot where you can absorb some of the health benefits of being in Nature, even if it’s just five minutes sitting on a bench outdoors to eat your lunch.
If you are lucky enough to live near woodland, or want to get away from things at the weekend, find a nearby forest or wood and spend a day Forest Bathing. A common practice in Japan, this simply means walking through a wood or forest. Not only will the peace and quiet feel restorative, actual chemical changes occur in our bodies as a result of being in forests. The mycobacterium vaccae in the soil and the photoncide oils in the trees boost our immune systems and help reduce stress.
2.Find a ‘wear with everything’ dress
In hot weather the last thing you want is to feel sweaty and constricted. Now’s the time to invest in a piece that will go with everything and will work as well for a day in the office as on a city-break stroll. You don’t want to spend time thinking about what to wear, so instead free up some headspace by opting for a minimalist wardrobe with a few key interchangeable items. We love this simple linen maxi dress as a go-to summer dress.
3.Explore gentle ways to be more productive
We all feel pushed for time, juggling work demands with home lives and other responsibilities. To prevent yourself from feeling overwhelmed, and to give yourself more time for the things that are really important to you, find some gentle ways to be more productive. With a more focussed use of your time you can create space for things that make you happy.
Many people find writing ‘Morning pages‘ a really helpful way to get all the busyness out of their heads before they start the day. All you do is simply write three pages of whatever comes into your head, first thing in the morning before you do anything else. If three seems too much, reduce the number of pages, but you’ll be surprised how easily you will fill the paper with thoughts and ideas. This is a great way of clearing your head of any niggling worries, things to do and goals for the day, as well as often producing some interesting and creative responses. Once these things are on paper you have more headspace for work or everyday life.
Another gentle way to increase your productivity is to use the ‘Two minute morning‘ system. This is similar to morning pages but it involves writing down your responses to the same three questions every morning: ‘I will let go of…’, ‘I am grateful for…’ and ‘I will focus on…’ Again, the result is a clearer head and a focussed start to your day, without the pressure of lengthy to-do lists.
4.Get your bedroom summer and sleep-ready
It can be hard to sleep when the nights are warm and with the dawn light arriving early, accompanied by merry birdsong. Make sure you keep your energy levels up by getting a decent night’s sleep. Banish your phone and other blue-light tech gadgets from the bedroom as they can interfere with your body’s sleep rhythms. Invest in some soft linen bedlinen as it will help regulate your body temperature as well as wicking moisture away from your skin, which all helps you feel comfortable and sleep more deeply. Linen is a durable, sustainable option for bedlinen whatever the weather, but particularly comes into its own during summer.
Bring in fresh flowers and light a candle to create a tranquil feel. Our bedrooms can often become dumping grounds for clutter and clothes that need sorting, but trying to keep the space clear and calm will help you relax. Get smart with storage, or have a major clean out of clothes and other things you can really live without. Make the bed each morning so it looks inviting at bedtime.
Reading in summer doesn’t have to be just about finding a ‘beach book’. If you are someone who would like to spend more time reading but just never finds the right moment, try this tip: carry a book with you in your bag, wherever you go. That way, instead of scrolling through social media whilst you wait in a queue or sit on a train, you can read. It’s surprising how many ’empty’ moments there are in a day, and it’s often these moments that we fill with our phones. Instead of looking at pictures of other people’s seemingly perfect lives, a few minutes immersed in a good book might be far more rewarding and energising.
Some bookshops offer a subscription service where they send you a certain number of books each month, selected according to your own personal preferences. This might be a lovely gift to give someone – or yourself.
6.Pack a slow living summer essentials bag
There are certain things that we always need during summer: a water bottle, sunscreen, a hat, healthy snacks for impromptu picnics or gatherings, and even a swimsuit and towel. Keep all your summer essentials in a bag near the front door and you’ll be ready for adventure or time outdoors, without having to run about collecting things or transferring them between bags. Taking a moment to stop and think about what we need in advance, rather than reacting in the moment and rushing, can save time in the long run and reduce what can sometimes be a stress hot-point, especially if you are trying to herd small children out of the door.
Do you have any suggestions for a slow living summer? How do you stay focussed and happy at work, and how do you unwind?